In Office 2013, Microsoft’s latest productivity suite, the company decided to let users add a bit of “personality” to their applications with custom backgrounds and themes. They are subtle changes, to be sure, but if you’d like to change the look of Word, Outlook, or any other Office 2013 app, here’s how:
First, open an Office 2013 application; we’ll use Word 2013 for this article. Click the “File” button in the top left corner of the window to open the File & Info page. Next, select “Options” in the blue column on the left.
In the General tab, look under the “Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office” section. There are two drop-down boxes at the bottom: Office Background and Office Theme. First, backgrounds.
In the current shipping version of Office, there are 14 backgrounds to choose from. “Background” is a generous term, however, as these options only change a gray graphic in the upper-right portion of your Office apps.
To change your background, select one of the items from the drop-down list and then press OK at the bottom of the “Word Options” window to enable your changes. You’ll instantly notice that the graphic in the top right banner of your window has changed.
You can further customize the look of Office with themes. To change your theme, head back to File > Options > General and this time select a drop-down option from the Office Theme box. Your three choices for theme are White, Light Gray, and Dark Gray. As before, select your theme and press OK to enable the change.
Themes change the color of the menus and backdrop of the working area. Pages, email messages, and spreadsheet backgrounds are still white regardless of theme selection. While more noticeable than Office Backgrounds, the Themes are still a very subtle way to change the overall look of Office.
Microsoft’s new strategy is a strong push for a uniform user experience, resulting in few options for a user to customize the look of their Windows and Office installations. Still, if you’re looking for just a bit of flair, check out Office Backgrounds and Themes.